Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
Psalm 11:4, 5, 7
Peter is so very human. So are we. The Gospels are filled with many of Peter’s human qualities that all of us struggle with each day. Peter can be angry, distrusting, blaming, filled with disloyalty and then remorse, and today, we see him being jealous.
There is no question that Peter deeply loves Jesus. In yesterday’s gospel, Jesus has again tested Peter’s love by asking him three times if he did indeed love him. Peter responded that he did indeed love Jesus becoming distressed at the repeated nature of the questions. But we also sense that Peter’s love is possessive. He wants to be recognized by Jesus as the one He loves the most. Peter points to the apostle described as the one “whom Jesus loved” and Peter’s pride and envy gets the most of him. He asks Jesus point blank, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus tells Peter, “What concern is it of yours?”
We can feel Peter’s reaction. Seeking to be elevated, we are instead diminished. It is the “kick in the gut” that none of us wants to experience. Indeed, it would be as if Jesus said, “You already know how much I love you and yet you still distrust my love so much that you will not be happy until I tell you that you are the only one whom I love and that will never be.” It feeds on each insecurity we have. It tests our true faith, not the one we show publicly but the one we know in our heart. We know our weakest moments when we struggle with our faith and want some more proof to make sure we aren’t ‘wrong.’ The gospel even taunts us more with our insecurities by telling us that there are many more wonderful things that Jesus did, but because they were too numerous, they weren’t written down. Just to have a few more of these precious moments might give us more incentive to keep our faith.
No matter how confused we are, Jesus gives us hope. After all, despite all his weaknesses, it is Peter that ultimately becomes “the rock” that Jesus uses. Jesus understands our human nature. He knows that for every time we waiver and come back to our faith, we come back stronger. He tells us, “You follow me.” It is indeed a blessing that Jesus knows what it means to be human by his own experience. Was not his understanding of our human qualities enhanced by his own experiences of being human? Didn’t he better understand the emotions we all feel by his time on earth?
And so we follow though we stumble and pick ourselves up. And
we follow with greater resolve.
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